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Toledo ready to host Blue-Gold Invitational

On August 25, 2011

The Rockets volleyball team opens their season this weekend with the Blue and Gold Invitational at Savage Arena.

Toledo held its annual Blue vs. Gold game last week and hopes that the inter-squad scrimmage will prepare them for the round-robin tournament.

"It gave us a little taste of what it's going to be like on Friday," head coach Greg Smith said. "I thought the team did well and there were a lot of positives. People always look for the positives but we also found some things we need to work on."

The Rockets will be led by returning seniors Kassie Kadera and Amber DeWeerdt. Both Kadera and DeWeerdt were team captains in the 2010 campaign.

"When you have players that have been three-year starters it just brings so much more to the floor," Smith said. "Kassie and Amber are two different types of leaders. Kassie is a verbal and more vocal leader while Amber leads by example. I think both of them work very hard and always look to become better players."

Also returning to the floor this season will be senior Cassie Kleespies and junior Sondra Parys. Parys missed most of last season due to her battle with Lyme's Disease, but was strong in the Blue vs. Gold game, leading the team with 25 kills. Along with the upperclassmen, a very talented sophomore class returns for year two of their career at Toledo.

Lauren Rafdal and Becca Reidy return to the outside hitter position and look to pick up where they left off. Rafdal led the team with 2.96 kills per set and earned herself a spot on the Mid-American Conference All-Tournament team after posting a .283 kill percentage. Rafdal also led the team with 13 kills in their upset of Michigan.

Reidy started 27 of 30 matches in 2010 registering 186 kills and posting a .206 attack percentage for the season.

"The sophomore class has really stepped up and added to our depth. It doesn't just give us the depth but it also gives us great competition and its just fun to be in the gym."

With returning players and positive energy surrounding the team, Coach Smith feels good about his team for 2011 season.

"It feels good to be able to look down the line and be comfortable with any line-up," Smith said. "In some cases you won't have a group of 16 players and say they can do well but this year we do. I know they have the ability to perform and play at the collegiate level. It just makes our practices so much fun."

The Rockets kickoff the tournament with a 7 p.m. match against Wright State Friday at Savage Arena.

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